Groundbreaking held for Green Bay Botanical Garden's amphitheater

A groundbreaking for the botanical garden's Grand Garden was held Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016.(WLUK/Gabrielle Mays)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- With shovels in hand, the Green Bay Botanical Garden held a groundbreaking, on Thursday, for something that's been in the works for decades.

"Back in 1986 when we did our very first master plan, we envisioned an amphitheater in our backyard. So, here we are 30 years later," said Susan Garot, Green Bay Botanical Garden's executive director.

The pile of dirt and flattened ground that sits toward the back of the center will eventually become Grand Garden and include an amphitheater, a private garden and concession area.

"The features that we're building are unparalleled to anywhere in the state," Garot said.

The new addition comes with a $5.5 million price tag.

So far, the botanical garden continues to raise money and says it's close to reaching that goal.

By 2020, Garot says Grand Garden is expected give the botanical garden an attendance boost of 200,000 visitors a year. The area will also become a performing arts center that includes concerts, theater and dance.

"We expect to have events here, probably, every day of the week from mid-May to mid-October," she said.

The amphitheater will be named after philanthropist Irene "Billie" Kress who died earlier this year. Her son John, held back tears as he talked about his mom's love for the botanical garden.

"From its very conception, she's been a big supporter of it over the years and so this is just to honor her life and all she did to help make the community better," said John Kress.

Construction on Grand Garden is expected to be completed by next May with events to follow in the fall.

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